Imagine a courtroom in the United States in front of the judge the State is making its case against the plaintiff. Ordinarily this person being hauled to court would be no surpirse. It is suprising in a way since no one ever expected Mr Capone to be in front of a judge and jury. And no one expected him to be there becasue he cheated the Internal Revenue Service.
He did and He got convicted and that meant the end of the career of th Chicago Crime Lord.
It is not sexy but it sticks. At least that is what they said about the case.
A few weeks ago I went to a procurement seminar.
Now when you hear that you would be going to a procurement seminar, those two word will most likelt bring about images of a bean counter and a monotous talk about numerical figures. Fortunately, the talk was nothing like any of the immediate appropriate notions i had.
The talk about Procurement Oversight by Scott Amey from Project Oversight on Government or POGO was not sleep indusing.
THE TALK ABOUT POGO
AMEY talked about their work Government Oversight in the United States. The stories included government spending in Area 54, what seemed to be over-priced items like air blowers and other stuff. Including coffee cups that was supposed to break in specified number of parts or why the US had fighter planes the US Airforce did not want but because of politics was being made – the plane and component parts were made in several states.
And the talk was not limited to cases in the United States. A number of attendees to the seminar also talked about stories here in the Philippines. One that stood out was a helmet that seemed to be over-priced.
One Interesting thing out of the open forum. One of the oversight or watchdog groups active in guarding government spending comes from a church group. In this time when the country or the upper and middle class of Philippine society are debating on the separation of Church and State in the matter of reproductive health it is interesting to see that in other areas of government affairs the church seems to be looking in and fiscalizing.
SOURCE OF MONEY FOR POGO
Aside from the stories one of interesting part of the talk was about the financing of POGO. It gets its fund from private citizens and other donors who are scrutinized so that there would be no potential conflict of interest:
For example Law Firms are scrutinized to make sure they do not lobby or represent contractors that may fall under the oversight activities.
POGO AND POGO
One of symbols adapted by POGO was Pogo. A comic book character from the same-titled comic strip created by Walt Kelley. And Pogo who lived in a Swamp was walking with his friend Porkypine across a forest covered with trash and assorted junk when they had this conversation:
Panel 1: PorkyPine and Pogo gingerely walking across the Forest
PORKYPINE: AH POGO THE BEAUTY OF THE FOREST PRIMEVAL GETS ME IN THE HEART
POGO: IT GETS ME IN THE FEET PORKYPINE.
Panel 2: They have made it to the side and are noe seated. We see a the great amount of grabage they had to walk to get across.
PORKYPINE: ITS HARD WLKING ON THIS STUFF
POGO: YEP SON WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS US
See See Comic Strip here
YEP SON WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS US
MEASURE OF SUCCESS
As part of Civil Society and a NGO Pogo has been involved in oversight for over twenty years. And it measures it success is through:
a: legislation passed,
b: cases won
c: and sound byte.
In this instance Amey mentioned the successful use of online media – blogs – to promote their cause and publish the news.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT – FOIA
The afternoon gave us – the audience – additional information on how the Freedom Of Information Act works in the US. And more important gave us a peak how even if it is passed it could still be delayed of stifled by government bureaucracy and red tape. It actually reminded me of the latest development of IIRC case. Quite similar.
But then again the Freedom of Information Act has to be passed and approved first. Then we have to make sure there is an efficient document recording and archiving system. So far there seems to be none.